DOC’s largest boost since 2002

The Southland Times - - National News / Budget 2018 - Henry Cooke

Green Party co-leader James Shaw is calling Bud­get 2018 the ‘‘green­est Bud­get in liv­ing mem­ory’’ with the largest boost to con­ser­va­tion fund­ing since 2002.

Bud­get 2018 de­liv­ers $618 mil­lion over four years to Green Party poli­cies, about 5.4 per cent of the $11.4 bil­lion in new op­er­a­tional spend­ing al­lo­cated in the to­tal Bud­get.

Seven of the party’s 20 pledges it won dur­ing coali­tion ne­go­ti­a­tions are in­cluded – with an aim to get the other ones rolled into fu­ture Bud­gets.

A big chunk of the fund­ing is $181.6m over four years for the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion – the largest boost since 2002. The party cam­paigned on dou­bling the DoC bud­get, how­ever this boost doesn’t man­age that.

‘‘Af­ter years of ne­glect and piece­meal fund­ing, Bud­get 2018 en­sures that DoC can plan ahead and tar­get the pests that are dev­as­tat­ing the habi­tats of New Zealand’s unique species,’’ Con­ser­va­tion Min­is­ter and Green MP Eu­ge­nie Sage said.

The money will go to­wards ‘‘land­scape-scale preda­tor con­trol’’, bio­di­ver­sity ini­tia­tives, core ca­pa­bil­ity, and bet­ter vis­i­tor man­age­ment.

‘‘Bud­get 2018 will lock in on­go­ing fund­ing for preda­tor­con­trol pro­grammes like the Bat­tle for Our Birds. In­stead of DoC hav­ing to scramble and shift fund­ing ev­ery year from other pri­or­i­ties, this work will now have se­cure on­go­ing fund­ing as part of the depart­ment’s base­line,’’ Sage said.

An­other Green win is a $100m Green In­vest­ment Fund aimed at stim­u­lat­ing pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment into low-emis­sion projects.

‘‘The fund will be es­tab­lished by the end of 2018. There is an ex­pec­ta­tion it will re­pay ini­tial Crown op­er­a­tional fund­ing once it is self-sus­tain­ing,’’ Shaw said.

‘‘In places like Aus­tralia, the United King­dom and some US states, green in­vest­ment funds have been hugely suc­cess­ful, at­tract­ing cap­i­tal to fund low­car­bon tran­si­tions and re­duce cli­mate pol­lu­tion.’’

The Green Party – as it has in the past – also won money for a new in­su­la­tion and heat­ing scheme, which will de­liver $142.5m in grants for low-in­come home­own­ers to heat and in­su­late their homes.

‘‘To­day’s Bud­get rep­re­sents a mea­sured ap­proach to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of our con­fi­dence and sup­ply agree­ment over this term of gov­ern­ment,’’ Shaw said.

‘‘It is our an­tic­i­pa­tion that the re­main­ing mea­sures will be met over fu­ture Bud­gets.’’

The party has had some other wins, in­clud­ing the end of new oil and gas ex­plo­ration per­mits and pledged fund­ing for light rail in Auck­land.

‘‘Bud­get 2018 will lock in on­go­ing fund­ing for preda­tor-con­trol pro­grammes.’’ Con­ser­va­tion Min­is­ter and Green MP Eu­ge­nie Sage

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